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Wine Pick of the Week

2012 Pinot Noir   SeaGlass Santa Barbara County Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $12*   “The 2012 SeaGlass is clearly a Pinot Noir. You wouldn’t mistake it for anything else. Lighter in color than most California red wines, it shows aromas and flavors reminiscent of plums and cherries in a way that no other variety would. We bought it in a supermarket for $9.99, which is a little less than the average pricing nationally.* While there are examples of Pinot Noir for ten dollars and less,  most of them have just the generic ‘California’ appellation listed on the labels. One could…
2012 Red Mountain Lemberger   Kiona Vineyards Red Mountain (Washington) Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail:  $15   “Lemberger has the reputation in the wine industry as being ‘a tough sell.’ That’s a shame, because it’s really a worthy option among red wines. Just as Zinfandel and Merlot are names of grape varieties, so, too, is Lemberger. It has no relationship to that pungent cheese bearing a similar identity, but somehow there’s a negative connection for the consumer.  Lemberger is a variety known by other names, notably Blaufrȁnkisch  in Austria and some eastern European countries.  Wineries in New York state also produce this variety as does at…
N/V Che é Amore Blue Mountain Cellars Walla Walla, Washington Alcohol: 13.8% Suggested Retail: $15   “Unless you live in southeastern Washington, you’re not likely to find this wine. The relatively small production (1200 cases) is sold mostly through restaurants and retailers in the Walla Walla and Tri-Cities areas (though it’s also available via the winery website). We selected it as this week’s ‘Pick’ not to tease you, but to illustrate an unusual approach to winemaking and marketing.  That, and the fact that we really liked this wine and would like to encourage more producers to try something similar “Though…
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon   Two Rivers Winery Grand Valley (Colorado) Alcohol: 13.2% Suggested Retail: $16.50   “Our reviewer discovered the wines of Colorado a decade ago.  He enjoyed the 2002 Cabernet from Two Rivers Winery when tasting it as a new wine on its release in 2005.  A recently uncovered bottle from that same vintage proved to be a pleasant surprise. “Two Rivers is located in Mesa County, near the city of Grand Junction. Its vineyards lie within the Grand Valley appellation, where grapes are grown at very high altitude (averaging about 4700-feet in elevation).  Some of Colorado’s wines are…
NV Red Blend   Sutter Home California Alcohol: 13.8% Suggested Retail: $6   “We didn't particularly like this wine, though others will. Sometimes we select a wine for this weekly feature because it allows us to address a more diverse view of wine than just our own preferences. This non-vintage (NV) red wine is such a case. Wineries are discovering that there's a substantial audience for red table wines sweeter than the traditional style. The Sutter Home Red Blend is well-made; not flawed in any technical way, but it's just too soft and sweet for us. It's comprised of quality…
2011 Merlot   Kendall-Jackson Sonoma County Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $23   “A lot of fruit showing here. Black cherries and dark plums. Berries, but more blackberries than raspberries. There's some tea and black olive and an intriguing dusty, mocha quality in the background that lingers in the finish. An overall richness, yet good balance in this Merlot.” Food Affinity: “Most red meat dishes would work, but well-seasoned dark meat from chicken and turkey could be appealing, as would most preparations of duck or goose.”
2012 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon   Columbia Crest Winery Horse Heaven Hills (Washington) Alcohol: 14% Suggested retail: $15   “Primarily comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon (94%), there's also a touch of Merlot (4%) and Syrah (2%) in this solid value from Columbia Crest, which has a long history of turning out high quality Cabernet Sauvignon from this part of southeastern Washington. Aromas of cassis, cola and black tea precede flavors of blackberries and cherries. There's a richness that stops well short of viscosity, but gives a nice roundness in the mouth.” Food Affinity: “Would brighten a drizzly afternoon if enjoyed with some…
2013 Willakia Chardonnay   Erath Eola-Amity Hills (Oregon) Alcohol: 13% Suggested Retail: $34   “With all the great Pinot Gris Oregon has been producing, Chardonnay sometimes seems the state's forgotten white wine. That's a shame, especially when there are such delights as this offering from the Willakia Vineyard in the Willamete Valley. For those used to the more florid California style, the Willakia Chardonnay might seem a bit restrained. We find plenty to like, though, and think subtlety and nuance are exhibited here. The winery says this very small production wine (238 cases) was given eight months of sur lie…
2003 La Castellana   Castello di Amorosa Napa Valley Alcohol: 14.4% Suggested Retail: $95 (for current 2010 vintage)   “This is an 'archival selection' pulled from the cellar on Christmas Day. It's a blended red wine from Dario Sattui's Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley and is more-or-less in the Super-Tuscan style, though the composition is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (74%), augmented by Sangiovese (14%) and Merlot (12%). We thought it primarily Cabernet in personality, with blackberry, dark plum and cranberry aspects most prominent. There was some light chocolate or mocha there, along with subtle herbal and spice notes. Red…
2012 Hot to Trot Red Blend   14 Hands Winery Columbia Valley, Washington Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $12   “Blended wine from Washington's Columbia Valley appellation is an appealing combination that offers reasonable sophistication at decent price. Winery says it's mostly Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little boost from other unidentified grapes. We found aromas of raspberry and blackberry with maybe a bit of spice in the background. Flavors tend toward blackberry, plum and Bing cherry. Nice feel in the mouth—decent tannins without being too obvious. The finish is reasonably long, but clean. Overall, we found this blend…
2013 Chardonnay   Bonterra Mendocino County Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $16   “We liked this wine more a day after first opening it. As this organic Chard 'opened up' it showed a very floral aroma. Lots of orange blossom in the nose. Both the aroma and subsequent tastes revealed a rich, creamy personality. Some vanilla from from aging in relatively small percentage of new oak. Evokes memories of a frozen treat that was variously packaged as Creamsicles or Dreamsicles. These had a vanilla ice cream center enveloped by an icy orange coating, and were a staple of the reviewer's childhood.”…
2013 Viognier   Bonterra Mendocino County Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $16   “Another Bonterra wine from certified organic vineyards, this Viognier contains an unspecified amount of Muscat in the blend to amplify the Viognier's natural floral quotient. Peaches and citrus greet the nose, followed by (deeper) flavors of peach and apricot backed by just a hint of brown spice. At 14-and-half alcohol there is substantial weight and viscosity to make this wine substantial enough to pair with heartier foods. Clean, long finish. Would be an interesting alternative to the Chardonnay-as-cocktail order at happy hour.” Food Affinity: “Veal or poultry with…
2012 Zinfandel   Bonterra Mendocino County Alcohol: 14.5% Suggested Retail: $16   “Some may be drawn to Bonterra's Zinfandel because it's made from organic grapes. Nothing wrong with that, but we've encountered some products—wine and otherwise—that taste lousy, however pure, green and organic they might be. Happily, that isn't the case with this wine. We think it's a fine example of the variety and a good value, to boot. While the 2012 Bonterra Zinfandel is packed with plenty of power, it hasn't lost its sense of what this varietal should be all about. We find aromas and flavors of blueberry,…
2009 Vin de Glacière Riesling   Pacific Rim Columbia Valley (Washington) Alcohol: 9.% (approx.) Suggested Retail: $ 14 (375ml)   “Too few Americans are familiar with quality dessert wines. Among these are Sauternes, which are made in the southwest of France from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes. They are very sweet and low in alcohol. A classic pairing is foie gras, but cheeses and fresh fruit are also good companions. (Apparently, some Brits are also unfamiliar with them, as author Ian Fleming once had his otherwise sophisticated spy character, James Bond, order a bottle of the most famous of…
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon   Bumgarner Winery El Dorado County Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $35   “Sourced from two El Dorado County Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards at 3000-foot elevation. Blend includes 3% Merlot. Traditional Cabernet attributes evoking cassis, dark cherries and some cedar, with a bit of black olive in the background. “Accepted wisdom is that mountain-grown grapes yield flavors of greater intensity, which would seem to be evidenced here. But what's even more appealing about this small-production wine (396 cases), is its sophistication and elegance. Winemaker Brian Bumgarner has crafted an extraordinary wine at a bargain price. His 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon…
2011 Sagrantino   Nello Olivo El Dorado County Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $100   “To our knowledge, Rancho Olivo Vineyards in El Dorado County is one of (at most) a handlful of California growers of the Sagarantino grape variety, which is native to the north of Italy. Nello Olivo of the eponymously-named winery traces his ancestral roots to Montefalco in Umbria and believes that the Sagrantino grape will do as well in El Dorado County as it does there. “The 2011 Nello Olivo Sagrantino is deep, dark and full of intensity, though such qualities do not come from its alcoholic…
2007 Cabernet Franc   Pride Mountain Vineyards Sonoma County Alcohol: 14.2% Suggested Retail: $60   “Cabernet Franc is vinified on its own in the wines of Chinon from France's Loire Valley. It's also included in blended red wines from Bordeaux. Though less familiar to American consumers than its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is becoming a more popular option for California winemakers. “Pride Mountain is in the Mayacamas Mountain Range. It is situated at 2,000-feet elevation on Spring Mountain and includes property in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. Though the current release of this winery's Cabernet Franc is the 2012…
2005 Ambelones, Dry White Wine of Koropi   Domaine Vassiliou Koropi, Greece Alcohol: 12% Suggested Retail: 8 Euros (about $10)   “This week's selection is a wine the publisher enjoyed when attending Kerasma, an international food, wine and spirits conference in Greece in 2006. Unfortunately, no tasting notes from the visit to the winery could be found. His recollection is that the five or six wines tasted that day were all pretty good and modestly-priced. The winery's website indicates the current release of this wine, the 2013 vintage, is made from Savatiano (80%) and Roditis (20%), grapes unknown in the…
2013 Sauvignon Blanc   Mason Cellars Napa Valley Alcohol:14% Suggested Retail: $16   “Mason is something of a rarity in the Cabernet-centric Napa Valley—a Sauvignon Blanc specialist. Though the label on the 2013 vintage indicates a Napa Valley provenance, it could just as well have said 'Yountville,' as the grapes came from a single, certified organic vineyard in that growing region a few miles north of the city of Napa. Though Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes blended with Semillon—notably in Bordeaux, but occasionally in California—the Mason 2013 vintage is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. “We found floral and melon aromas, with a bit…
The Mariner 2011   Dry Creek Vineyard Appellation: Dry Creek Valley Alcohol: 13.5% Suggested Retail: $45   “The Mariner is a red wine bearing what's called a proprietary name. It is a blend of grape varieties native to Bordeaux, as grown in the Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. Though it's mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), it can't be labeled as such, because it contains less than the 75% minimum. The composition also includes Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (4%). “We tasted this wine analytically, then enjoyed half of it with a dinner and revisited it for…
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